Sports Tourism Booming In Chatham-Kent
This year, perhaps more than ever, Chatham-Kent has added another layer to this sporting culture – sports tourism.
From the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling, the NHL’s Hometown Hockey, an NCAA Division I basketball game, and recent events including the Ontario Junior Golf Championship and OFSAA soccer, this year has brought and will bring top level sports exposure, and the resulting benefits to Chatham-Kent.
“CK benefits by being able to showcase its amazing assets in both people and place,” says Shannon Paiva, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent’s Supervisor of Tourism Development about the benefits to the community of these events. “By being chosen for incredible events like this we prove that we can compete with the big cities. We get to highlight what we have to offer and see people come back because of that. Financially our stakeholders benefit as well through purchased food, paid accommodations and money spent on gas and shopping.”
For Paiva, she hopes the recent success of the area’s groups and organizations luring top events to the area sends a clear message to any other groups looking for a host community.
“We are open for business!”
Although Chatham-Kent is filled with recent success, critics would state there is still work to be done, specifically related to infrastructure and aging facilities. According to Paiva, this is not a problem unique to Chatham-Kent, and the Municipality is doing what it can to see and seize opportunities.
“All communities have challenges to overcome,” explained Paiva. “Being rural can create those types of challenges you have listed,but it’s also what makes us unique. We will continue to try to seize opportunities and find ways to overcome obstacles.”
Overall, Paiva knows the value of a booming sports based economy, and sports tourism for any community, including Chatham-Kent.
“Sports and sports tourism is so important to a community like CK; in many ways,” she said. “By showing our residents we can compete with other communities and host to the highest of standards instills a sense of pride.”
“Businesses can see that we can attract events like this and that this is only the beginning. It’s a great way for people to think outside the box and consider entrepreneurship that may not even require bricks and mortar. There are great opportunities for all.”
With the exciting schedule of sporting events this Fall and Winter, opportunity is definitely knocking for Chatham-Kent to continue to showcase itself as a vibrant and active sporting community.